UN rights body demands access to Beijing's abducted Panchen Lama
Chinese authorities say Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, now 16 year-old, is fine and "do not wish to be disturbed by foreign visitors".

Geneva (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has demanded independent access to Tibet's young Panchen Lama, who has been under house arrest by China for the past decade.

During an examination of a report on China, the president of the committee of independent experts, Jacob Egbert Doek, said Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, now 16, had been "taken from Tibet to China against his will and those of his parents". Repeated demands for an independent person to visit Gedhun had been refused by Chinese authorities, Mr Doek said, adding that such a visit would allow "the claims of the Chinese authorities about the well being of this child" to be confirmed.

"In view of the refusal of the authorities to allow such an independent visit, it would seem that something is wrong," he said, again asking Beijing to permit a trip.

In 1995's May, the Dalai Lama had named Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, then aged 6, as the true reincarnation of the Panchen Lama. The Religious Affair Office chose in November the same year another 6 year old boy, Gyaincain Norbu. The Chinese authorities have not revealed Gedhun's whereabouts but it is thought the boy is under house arrest. Amnesty International has defined the boy as the youngest prisoner of conscience in the world.

The Chinese delegation, led by Beijing's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Sha Zhukang , told the committee that the child and his family "do not wish to be disturbed by foreign visitors because that could have negative effects". Gedhun was a Tibetan child like any other, who was in secondary school and received good results, the Chinese delegation said.